In the last few years, the world has undergone a massive shift in the way we work. In a lot of ways, it’s been a long time coming. What started as a necessity when the global pandemic moved most work to the house, has become something of a revolution that has created more flexibility for workers around the world.
Along with allowing people to continue to work from home, there’s been a push to introduce more flexibility into the workplace that allows people to work either from home or the office, depending on their preferences. The hybrid office is an example of this that businesses have been turning to as a way of giving their employees more freedom.
What is a hybrid office?
A hybrid office allows for a mix of both in-person and remote working by employees at an office. These offices take advantage of technology to create a cohesive feeling for all employees, regardless of where they’re located. This technology helps everyone on your team contribute in meaningful ways, while still working in a way that suits them.
What do you need to set up a hybrid office?
Setting up a hybrid office is a mix of taking advantage of tech that helps you stay connected, while also giving you a way to reduce the amount of office space that you need. It can take a while to understand what’s going to work best for your particular office, but with an open mind and a willingness to try different approaches, you can create the ideal setup.
Have clearly defined policies
This first one is less about tech as it is just making sure that everyone’s on the same page with regards to what the expectations are for your hybrid office. As part of this, you should sit down with your team, as many of them as possible, and discuss what’s important to everyone.
When you do that, you’ll learn what you need to make your hybrid office successful and you’ll gain a sense of what kind of policies should be in place. This should include rules around technology use, where work can happen (you probably don’t want people working at a coffee shop, for example, if your industry is highly regulated), what kinds of security tools are needed, and so on.
The goal here isn’t to overwhelm your employees, but rather to make sure that everyone is on the same page regarding their responsibilities for the hybrid office approach.
Connectivity is important
One of the bigger challenges associated with hybrid offices is making sure that everyone feels connected to the rest of the team. It doesn’t matter where you’re working from, as such, the shutdown in 2020 showed us that we can work very effectively as part of remote teams, as long as we have the right tools.
It’s a little trickier with a hybrid setup, but it’s not impossible. That’s why it’s important to have communication tools in place to work. This includes strong internet access to your office, webcam-enabled meeting spaces, so remote employees can still participate in meetings, chat tools like Slack to make team building possible and allow for watercooler-type interactions, as well as anything else that could be important to your team, like whiteboards.
Ensure your employees have the equipment they need
Along with making sure that your team can stay connected, they’re also going to need additional tools to properly work in a hybrid setting. VPNs are a must in hybrid situations. You can’t have employees working remotely (even some of the time) if they’re using unsecured connections to access the network. If you have a budget that includes company laptops, great! That way you can make sure your employees have systems that don’t impede working remotely (like outdated systems that won’t connect to the VPN or run the necessary tools). Similarly, decent webcams and microphones can be critical as well, although if you’re providing laptops, they’re probably going to be enough.
On top of that, you need to make sure that they have easy access to the software tools they use. That’s where using cloud-based platforms comes in handy. You don’t have to reconfigure anything, you just need to provide access.
Make sure you understand the tools your teams need to do their jobs
Taking the time to train your employees on the tools they’re going to be using might seem like an unnecessary task, but it’s going to save you a ton of headaches down the road if you take the time.
Think about it, most people are used to not really putting any thought into their tools in the office. They’ve been using most of them for so long that there’s likely a good number of people on autopilot. They don’t have to think about what they’re doing. They just act. But, if someone in a remote setting doesn’t know how to create the habit of properly logging into their VPN before accessing the network, that could be a huge problem.
Create a comprehensive training program for your tools, so that you’re keeping your company protected, you’re avoiding lost time due, and to ensure your team is making full use of the tools they’ve been provided.
Security should be the top priority whenever you make a decision
Security is important to any business, but with a hybrid office setup, it’s critical. People in hybrid environments need extra tools and protocols to make sure they don’t leave themselves open to cyberattacks. This includes things like the above-mentioned VPN, but should also take into account physical security concerns that come with hybrid work.
Simple things like privacy shields for monitors can make sure that employees don’t leak confidential data when working in public (or when working from a co-working space). As does reminding your team that if they are working in public, they cannot leave their computer unlocked when they’re not using it (and they should take it with them to the washroom).
Security training helps a lot in hybrid situations. Your staff can learn what they need to consider when remote working, get hands-on experience with things like VPNs or spotting phishing attempts, and it gives them a chance to ask any questions they’ve got about the new setup.
Need help with your hybrid office?
Getting a secure hybrid office set up can be tricky. There are a lot of details that you need to cover and, on top of that, you need to make sure you have all the tech pieces in place, like fully connected meeting rooms.
If you’d like to learn more about what it takes to create the perfect hybrid office for your business, let’s talk. We can help you get set up, ensure that everything is secure, and provide the training needed to help your team get the most out of the hybrid office. Contact us today to learn more.